Johannes Brahms: A Biography

Johannes Brahms: A Biography

by Jan Swafford

Paperback(1 VINTAGE)

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A New York Times Notable Book

"This brilliant and magisterial book is a very good bet to...become the definitive study of Johannes Brahms."--The Plain Dealer

Judicious, compassionate, and full of insight into Brahms's human complexity as well as his music, Johannes Brahms is an indispensable biography.

Proclaimed the new messiah of Romanticism by Robert Schumann when he was only twenty, Johannes Brahms dedicated himself to a long and extraordinarily productive career.  In this book, Jan Swafford sets out to reveal the little-known Brahms, the boy who grew up in mercantile Hamburg and played piano in beer halls among prostitutes and drunken sailors, the fiercely self-protective man who thwarted future biographers by burning papers, scores and notebooks late in his life.  Making unprecedented use of the remaining archival material, Swafford offers richly expanded perspectives on Brahms's youth, on his difficult romantic life--particularly his longstanding relationship with Clara Schumann--and on his professional rivalry with Lizst and Wagner.  

"[Johannes Brahms] will no doubt stand as the definitive work on Brahms, one of the monumental biographies in the entire musical library."--London Weekly Standard

"It is a measure of the accomplishment of Jan Swafford's biography that Brahms's sadness becomes palpable.... [Swafford] manages to construct a full-bodied human being."--The New York Times Book Review

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679745822
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/28/1999
Edition description: 1 VINTAGE
Pages: 752
Sales rank: 258,134
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Jan Swafford lives in eastern Massachusetts.

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Johannes Brahms 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
GabrielleJR More than 1 year ago
Readable and interesting, the story of Brahms' life is explored from honkytonk roots In his father's bar through the difficult passions of adulthood. Enjoyable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beirut must be practicing his or her English. That review makes no sense.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beirut768 More than 1 year ago
I wonder how Brahms would have compensated for the defeat to his friend's wife - Clara Schumann. Although lively attention to details was a notable characteristic of the German woman, pianist and composer, her love to the sentiments of her husband - the German composer Robert Schumann - was, at times, so shallow as to miscalculate Robert's perturbation with Brahms's apathy.

How could Brahms, having degenerated to low stage, get over the perfidy of his feelings for the woman who was fourteen years his senior (and who also raised seven children)?

Brahms could find no strength in a faith in the after-life; he remained peculiar, having sneering disbelief about human relationships, though devoted to his true friends and to Robert Schumann in particular.
While there are grounds for believing that he had anxious feelings about the strength of his own passions, he was denied the excitability for happiness in love ... On the face of it, Brahms was soulfully devoted to Clara Schumann and regarded Robert with the utmost respects. Clara cordially returned and her emotions remained held in careful control. ""Yet the profound seriousness of his temperament demanded a philosophy; above all, if Death was no longer accepted as the gateway to eternal life for the righteous, what was its meaning?"" Those were his words .......

Yet Brahms remained 'the confirmed bachelor''
With women, Brahms's approach was destined with indecision of purpose.

He loved LOVE..

Brahms gave us medley of music; conscious of the shadow of the dead, Ein Deutsches Requiem {1867/8} is one that represented heavenly masterpiece as if to seek pardon in humble supplications like the sinner who renounces lifelong bad habits when in extremity of pain.